Sudeley Castle, Gloucestershire. The last resting place of the sixth wife of Henry VIII

sudeley castleSudeley castle in Gloucestershire
If you are going to visit Sudeley castle from London, it will take about 2.5 hours drive, but it is unlikely that you will be left indifferent by the place, because it is well worth a journey even if only for enjoying the idyllic pastorals of the Cotswolds. The castle itself was built in the middle of the 15th century by Ralph Boteler, the military commander and the supporter of the Lancastrian kings during the War of Roses as well. With the seizure of the power by the House of York, Sudeley castle slipped from Sir Ralph and passed into the possession of the crown. The royal family owned it for quite a while until it was bestowed on Thomas Seymour by juvenile king Edward VI, who seemed to have the tendency to distribute the monarch’s properties (like Leeds castle, Penshurst place). After the young kings’ uncle the castle had been passed few times from one hand to another, was ruined during the Civil war and left for dilapidation. The situation changed in the 19th century, when two Victorian brothers-gloves makers John and William Dent purchased Sudeley castle and the surrounding grounds. Due to the common efforts of them and their descendents the castle got back its former splendour, though they also did not forget about the surrounding grounds that were turned into 8 enchanting gardens, amidst which are: Secret Garden with its explosion of colours in spring due to 2500 of various tulips, pedantic Knot Garden with unique pattern (there is a portrait of Elizabeth I in the castle, and it is said that one of the fragments of its dress’ pattern reflects this of the Knot garden) and outstanding Queen’s Garden that becomes a real heaven of aromatic petals with its substantial collection of roses during summer.

But Sudeley castle is more infamous as being the last resort of Catherine Parr, the sixth wife of Henry VIII. Before the voluptuous king put his eye on the charming Catherine, she had already been in love with magnetic Thomas Seymour. To vie for a woman with such mighty and unpredictable rival like Henry VIII was quite a perilous thing to do, so Sir Thomas sensibly stepped aside. Five years later, with the death of the king, Thomas, having been presented with Sudeley castle by his nephew, could eventually fulfil his intentions of making Catherine Parr an honest woman of her. The couple’s conjugal bliss didn’t last long though, the 35-year old queen died the next year of their marriage, presently after she had given birth to her and Thomas’ daughter. The period of expecting a baby was also reputedly spoilt by Seymour’s shady intents (with a note of sexual meaning in it according to the rumours) regarding staying at Sudeley castle his wife’s 14 year-old niece, the future Queen Elizabeth I.
The queen’s burial place can be seen in Saint Mary’s Church, just opposite Sudeley castle, as well as some of belongings exhibited in the castle, such as her immortal love letter to Thomas Seymour: “…As truly as God is God, my mind was fully bent, the other time I was at liberty, to marry you before any man I know…”
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